Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Latour, Melinda. “Disciplining Song in Sixteenth-Century Geneva.” Journal of Musicology 32 (Winter 2015): 1-39.

During the first decade of Calvin’s Reform of Geneva, the Consistory ecclesiastical court targeted indecent singing, reflecting the Reformed belief in the power of song to influence behavior. The Consistory and the Genevan Small Council repeatedly issued proclamations and ordinances against illicit singing. Court records show over one hundred cases involving illicit singing in Calvinist Geneva. Some cases were solely about singing indecent songs, while others connected musical crimes to other crimes such as dancing and gambling. Many people charged with illicit singing defended themselves by claiming they were singing a different, legal song, often a patriotic song or a devotional contrafact of a would-be illicit tune. One of the biggest cases involving illicit song was brought against Jerome Bolsec, a former Carmelite who publicly argued against Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. During his imprisonment, Bolsec composed a contrafactum on Marot’s Psalm 23 in the Geneva Psalter that quickly made its way into the popular song repertoire. In making his theological argument in the song, Bolsec carefully preserves the poetic meter of the original and makes intertextual references to “David” and “lambs” from the psalm. A supporter of Bolsec, Jean de Cortean, was charged with (among other crimes including fornication) singing Bolsec’s contrafactum, for which Cortean was imprisoned. For the Calvinists, singing indecent songs was an attack on the Reformed social body and as such required strict disciplining through the Consistory.

Works: Jerome Bolsec: Complainte de Hierome Bolsec en prison en Geneve sur le chant du psalme: Mon Dieu me paist soubz sa puissance haulte (31-38)

Sources: Clement Marot: Mon Dieu me paist, Psalm 23 (31-38)

Index Classifications: 1500s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

Except where otherwise noted, this website is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
Creative Commons Attribution License